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Journal of CMC, Vol. 6, Issue 2

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Date: Sun, 21 Jan 2001 21:11:13 -0800
From: JCMC <>

Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication
Volume 6 Issue 2
January 2001


In this issue:
What's behind utopian and dystopian views of the Net? Why do consumers willingly expose themselves to messages from Internet marketers? Have e-mail surveys outlived their usefulness? How do theories about CMC as a "lean medium" hold up today? What factors determine the acceptance of an electronic marketplace by buyers and sellers?


On Utopias and Dystopias: Toward an Understanding of the Discourse Surrounding the Internet

Dana R. Fisher
Larry Michael Wright
University of Wisconsin-Madison USA

It is clear that the Internet has the capacity to change how individuals interact with others as well as increase access to information. Whether either one of these factors affects the social landscape has yet to be determined. This fact has not kept many from anticipating the effects of the technology on society. In this paper, we contextualizes some of the main issues of discussion regarding the Internet, describing these positions in terms of utopian and dystopian perspectives. By resurrecting William Ogburn's theory of the cultural lag (1964), we present a framework for understanding the extreme responses to the technology. The lag suggests that the effects of a technology will not be apparent to social actors for some time after its introduction to a society. As such, much of the discourse concerning the Internet is ideologically charged, filled as much with the hopes and fears of individual authors as with the reality of the medium's effects.

A Field Study on Distance Education and Communication: Experiences of a Virtual Tutor

Karin Schweizer, Manuela Paechter, and Bernd Weidenmann
University of the Federal Armed Forces, Munich, Germany

In a field study on distance education and communication we varied the social presence of a tutor in four degrees: a tutor mediated by verbal, written information (condition 1), the same tutor mediated by written information and various personal views (condition 2), the same tutor mediated by written and spoken information (condition 3), and the same tutor mediated by text, views and spoken language (condition 4). Three hypotheses derived from cues-filtered-out (e.g. Short, Williams, & Christie, 1976; Spears & Lea, 1992) and adaptation theories (e.g. Clark & Brennan, 1996; Walther, 1992) were tested: (1) To experience the tutor with less social presence leads to extremely emotional evaluations as well as more task-oriented, informal, and tense reactions compared to conditions in which the tutor can be experienced with greater social presence; (2) Adaptation to the medium takes place via the use of typographical sideways symbols; (3) Time is an important factor in adaptation: with passing time, differences between groups converge. We recorded data from 98 German male students who participated for 9 weeks in an off-campus online seminar on certain topics of General Psychology. Instruction took place via 6 virtual rooms (Web pages) on the Internet (library, virtual classroom, etc.). The analyses of studentss' online activities and their communication style are based on a large amount of data: Altogether, students logged in 3608 times, read 1240 e-mails, and composed 160 e-mails. The communication style observed in the e-mails partly confirms hypotheses (1) and (2). We also noticed significant changes in the communication style with progressing time. The data of the investigated sample, however, could not fully support hypothesis (3). Here, further research seems to be necessary.

Measuring the Acceptance of Electronic Marketplaces: A Study Based on a Used-Car Trading Site

Tobias Kollmann
International University College Bad Honnef, Bonn, Germany

Electronic marketplaces act as intermediaries between supply and demand. Such forums are often organized by a central operator and are a common form of electronic commerce. The operators are independent entrepreneurs who are competing against one another for business. Their objective is to win over users for their own marketplace in order to generate fees by matching buyers and sellers. This is only possible when the marketplace design is 'acceptable' to the users. Using data from an empirical study, the present article analyzes criteria which marketplace users considered important in determining their acceptance of an electronic marketplace. The data were collected from the users (buyers and sellers) of a used-car trading site.

A Comprehensive Analysis of Permission Marketing

Sandeep Krishnamurthy
University of Washington, Bothell USA

Godin (1999) has proposed a new idea - permission marketing. Here, consumers provide marketers with the permission to send them certain types of promotional messages. This is seen as reducing clutter and search costs for the consumer while improving targeting precision for marketers. This paper makes three contributions: First, a critical analysis of the concept and its relationship to existing ideas in the marketing literature is discussed. Second, a taxonomy of four models used to implement permission marketing today, direct relationship maintenance, permission partnership, ad market and permission pool, is presented. Permission intensity is seen as a key differentiator among models. Finally, a comprehensive conceptual cost-benefit framework is presented that captures the consumer experience in permission marketing programs. Consumer interest is seen as the key dependent variable that influences the degree of participation. Consumer interest is positively affected by message relevance and monetary benefit and negatively affected by information entry/modification costs, message processing costs and privacy costs. Based on this framework, several empirically testable propositions are identified.

E-mail Survey Response Rates: A Review

Kim Sheehan
University of Oregon USA

Electronic mail (e-mail) has been used to distribute surveys and collect data from online users for almost fifteen years. However, some have suggested that the use of e-mail is becoming obsolete. This study analyzes response rates to e-mail surveys undertaken since 1986 and examines five influences on response rates: the year the study was undertaken, the number of questions in the survey, the number of pre-notification contacts, the number of follow-up contacts and survey topic salience. Response rates to e-mail surveys have significantly decreased since 1986. Correlation and regression analyses suggest that year that the survey was undertaken and number of follow-up contacts had the most influence on response rates. A discussion of other influences and future research into this area is provided.


Editors of Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication:
Margaret McLaughlin, University of Southern California
Sheizaf Rafaeli, Haifa University

JCMC is published at the Annenberg School for Communication, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA 90089
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